|by Jim Amidon • May 12, 2005|
Wabash President Andrew T. Ford has appointed emeritus religion professor Raymond B. Williams as Dean of the College. Professor Williams, who retired from a distinguished teaching career in 2002, steps in for Mauri A. Ditzler ’75. Ditzler will become President of Monmouth College on July 1.
"It is hard to imagine anyone better suited for this assignment," said Ford in a note to the Wabash community. "Raymond knows the College extremely well, and he earned the respect and admiration of all our constituencies. He enjoyed a distinguished teaching and advising career, and he has a long history of vigilantly guarding faculty prerogatives and advising deans and presidents."
Williams joined the Wabash faculty in 1965, rose to full professor in 1977, and became the Charles D. and Elizabeth S. LaFollettee Distinguished Professor in the Humanities in 1989. In 1995, through a $5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., he founded the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion. He served as Director of the Wabash Center until his retirement.
A magna cum laude graduate of Johnson Bible College and Phillips University, Williams earned his master's degree and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He also earned his master's of divinity degree from Phillips University in 1960.
"Raymond has also managed an extraordinarily effective administrative career, most notably as chair of the Philosophy and Religion Department and founding director of the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning Theology and Religion," added Ford.
In 1993, Williams received the Ray L. Hart Award from the American Academy of Religion for his work in organizing Lilly-funded teaching workshops for young scholars in the field of religion. Those workshops served as the precursor to the establishment of the Wabash Center.
Williams is a leading international authority on Swaminarayan Hindusim and the religions of immigrants to the United States by people of India and Pakistan. He has written six books on the subject, including An Introduction to Swaminarayan Hinduism and Christian Pluralism in the United States.
During his teaching career at Wabash, Williams was honored with the McLain-McTurnan-Arnold Award for Excellence in Teaching; he also won the McLain-McTurnan-Arnold Research Fellowship. He is an honorary member of the Wabash Class of 1968.